“Good” means having desired qualities: morally excellent; beneficial; sound/wholesome; worthwhile.
“Best” means finest in quality; most advantageous, most excellent, wisest, most worthwhile.
Mk. 3:21, 31-35 Who came to Jesus while He was with the multitude?
What decision did Jesus have to make?
[Gk. “hoi par autou” – meaning “those from Him”, a Greek idiom for “kinspeople or family”].
What did Jesus answer the multitudes who told Him that His family was looking for Him?
What do you think Jesus meant by His answer?
[“the will of God” is to believe in Jesus as God’s Son, Christ, and Savior – Jn. 6:40; 1 Jn. 3:23].
Would it have been good for Jesus to spend time with His family, and why (Mk. 3:21)?
What did Jesus do instead (as implied by His answer)?
What are some modern day examples of good long-term and/or short-term family activities that can become the enemy of the best (which is concentrating one’s time and efforts on seeking and saving the lost and/or ministering to the family of God/Christians)?
Have you ever had to say “no” to spending time with your parents or other relatives because of your ministry responsibilities?
Do you go along with every request of your family for your time when you should be doing things like: attending or teaching a Bible study, evangelizing, training or building up other Christians spiritually that you’re responsible for, or being trained or built up spiritually by more mature Christian leaders yourself?
If you don’t go along with every request of your family, is it because of being intent on the Christian’s one purpose in life of evangelizing the lost while being Christ-like in character yourself (Phil. 2:2 with Phil. 1:27; Matt. 28:19-20; 2 Tim. 4:5; 1 Pet. 1:15; Eph. 4:11-13)?
What did your relatives think of you, if you said “no” to their request?
[While it is true that we are commanded to honor our mother and father, and love them; we are also commanded to love God supremely (realizing that He is the one who created our parents and gave them to us). It is possible that our love for our parents (which is good) can be greater than our love for God (which is best). Obedience to our parents is good, but obedience to God is best should a conflict of time commitment and priorities arise. If our parents ever tell us to do something good (that isn’t a sin), but it’s going to keep us from obeying God in His plan and priorities for our lives, then to obey whatever our parents tell us becomes sinful (even though it isn’t sinful in and of itself) because it hinders us from obeying God. At this point, the good of obeying our parents becomes the enemy of the best, which is obeying God and His Word, the Bible. See Matthew 10:37.].
Lk. 2:41-50 How old was Jesus at this time?
Would it have been good for Jesus to go home with His family, and why?
Instead of going home with His parents, what did Jesus do, and why?
What was Jesus doing at the temple with the teachers (Lk. 2:46)?
What was the result (Lk. 2:52)?
What does this show about Jesus’ priorities, even as a boy?
Do you put growing in wisdom by listening to accurate Bible teachers and asking good questions ahead of doing family activities and/or courtesies, and why?
How did Jesus’ family respond to the decision that He made (Lk. 2:48, 50)?
How do you think your family would respond to your decision to put God and His will and work of ministry ahead of doing things with them?
Does it sound like Jesus’ mother was offended by Jesus’ decision to stay behind in Jerusalem?
But was it right and the best thing for Him to do, and why (Lk. 2:49)?
[Because of Jesus’ priorities to do God the Father’s will (Jn. 4:34; 5:30; 6:38; Lk. 19:10; Mk. 1:38), He chose to stay at the temple instead of going home with His family.].
Can you think of any decisions that you need to make in your family life (i.e., changing your choices from good to best, in how you spend your time, direct your attention, etc.) because of higher biblical priorities?
If so, what?
What is the good in your situation, and what would be the best?
Lk. 4:42-44 What did the multitudes try to keep Jesus from doing?
What decision did Jesus have to make?
Would it have been good for Jesus to stay in the area to minister to the people, and why?
What did Jesus say He had to do instead, and why?
[Notice how Jesus’ purpose in life, as sent by God, influenced His decision.].
What are some examples of good ministry or church activities that often distract Christians from fulfilling their God-given purpose in life of evangelism (Matt. 28:19-20; Phil. 1:27 with Phil. 2:2; 2 Tim. 4:5) and building up and training other Christians spiritually (Rom. 14:19; 1 Thes. 5:11; Eph. 4:11-13)?
Have you ever had to say “no” to good ministry opportunities because they didn’t help you fulfill God’s purpose and/or goals for your life of evangelism and building up and training Christians for service to God?
If so, what was (were) it (they)?
What will you do the next time opportunities to be involved in good church activities (e.g., sing in the choir, be on the church baseball team, run the youth group recreation program, visit the old folks, feed the homeless, etc.) hinder you from being trained full-time or from evangelizing and training others full-time?
Lk. 9:57-62 What did Jesus say to the first man who said he would follow Jesus wherever He went?
[Jesus meant that to be a follower of Him, a person would have to be willing to give up material comforts, like having a bed of his own or a home of his own to go to each night.].
Is it normally good to have material possessions (e.g., a home, car, several sets of clothing, etc.)?
Before following Jesus, what did the second man want to do?
What did Jesus say to the second man?
[Jesus meant that there are certain jobs/tasks that any non-believer can do just as good if not better than believers while believers are best suited for other tasks, like evangelizing/sharing the gospel.].
Is it good to have tasks/jobs/responsibilities or a career to accomplish?
But isn’t it better to do what God has told all disciples/believers to specifically do, that being to evangelize/make converts or disciples (Matt. 28:19-20; Phil. 2:2 with Phil. 1:27; 2 Tim. 4:5)?
What did the third man say to Jesus?
What did Jesus reply?
When leaving home, is it good to go back and say good-bye to your family?
However, if God tells you to do something right away, who should be a higher priority to obey: God and/or His Word, the Bible, or your family and common courtesy?
[So, here we see three things that are usually good, but they become the enemy of the best, when immediate obedience to the specific commands of God/Jesus are hindered.].
Have you ever allowed material possessions, a job/task/career, or close relationships/family ties hinder you from following Jesus or being trained to serve God and be Christ-like?
Do you plan on changing from doing what is good to doing what is best?
Do you see how things that are usually good can cause would-be followers of Jesus to be “not fit for the kingdom of God”, when these things distract them from whole-heartedly following Jesus?
Is there presently anything hindering you from following Jesus in obedience and being trained to seek and save the lost and have Christ-like character?
If so, what do you plan to do about it, and why?
Lk. 10:38-42 What was Mary doing, and what was Martha doing when Jesus visited their house?
Was it good for Martha to prepare food for Jesus, and why?
However, what did the preparations do to Martha?
Out of the two sisters, which one did the good thing and which one did the best, and why?
What did Jesus say about Martha’s choice?
What did Jesus say about Mary’s choice?
Have you ever been so busy, busy, busy doing a lot of good things (driving people around, helping people out, singing in the choir, etc.) that you got distracted from doing the most important things in life (e.g., time alone with God in His Word and prayer, evangelizing the spiritually lost, and building up believers spiritually and training them to be Christ-like)?
What were the things that distracted you?
How can you keep those things from distracting you in the future (be specific)?
Lk. 14:15-24 What was the first man’s excuse for not going to the dinner?
What had an undue concern for material possessions done for the first person?
What was the second man’s excuse?
What had an undue concern for a job/occupation/career done to this second person?
What was the third man’s excuse?
What had an undue concern for married life done to the third person?
Is there anything wrong with material possessions, careers, or marriage in and of themselves?
[In this parable, going to dinner represented entering into the kingdom of heaven or receiving salvation.].
Can you see how doing good things can keep people from doing what’s best?
Have you ever heard people give excuses like: “I’ll become a Christian and get into the Bible after I finish college, get married, get a good-paying job, settle down and start a family, etc.?” Or, “I’ll get trained to be Christ-like in character and mission, start evangelizing, building up spiritually and training other believers, serve God, etc. after I get a new car, get my college degree, finish all my eligible years of being on the sports team, etc.?”
Do you see how something that is normally good becomes bad when it hinders you from doing what’s best in God’s eyes?
What other kinds of things do Christians get involved in that are usually good but become bad when substituted for what God says is best, which is loving God through holy/obedient-to-the-Bible living, trusting and obeying God in doing evangelism and building up believers spiritually (Matt. 22:37-38; Jn. 14:15, 21, 23; Phil. 2:2 with Phil. 1:27; 1 Pet. 1:14-16; 2:2, 10; Eph. 1:5-6; 4:11-13; 2 Cor. 5:15 with Lk. 9:60; Matt. 28:19-20, with Acts 10:42-43; Lk. 19:9-10; Mk. 1:36-38, 14-17; 10:28-30; Lk. 18:28-30 with Lk. 4:38)?
Jn. 12:3-8 What did Judas say about Mary using the costly perfume to anoint Jesus’ feet?
Did Jesus agree with Judas’ evaluation of how the perfume should be used?
What did Jesus say about the poor?
[The perfume was used wisely according to how it related to the purposes and needs of the Lord Jesus Christ, that being the custom of anointing in anticipation of His burial.].
Do you ever ask yourself the question, “How does making this decision or doing this activity relate to Jesus’/God’s purpose for my life?”
Are you willing to drop your good plans, choices, or good activities and do God’s, if you find out that yours have nothing to do with God’s perfect and best will for your life?
How can you know whether your plans, decisions, or activities are merely good and not the best?
Will you change if they’re not the best plans or activities, and why?
Acts 20:16 Why did Paul decide to sail past Ephesus?
Would it have been good for Paul to go to Asia and minister to the Christians there?
Have you ever had to give up good opportunities to minister to certain people because they did not fit with your God-given goals or objective?
If so, what were they?
Why is knowing your God-given purpose in life and, thereby, having biblical objectives and goals important in determining the good from the best?
Do you have any God-given goals or a life objective by which you can evaluate all your actions and decisions to see if they are merely good or the very best?
If so, what are they?
Rom. 12:2 Why should Christians renew their minds?
What is one way a Christian can renew his/her mind (2 Tim. 3:16-17; Psa. 119:97)?
What does God’s Word give to people so that they can discern good from best (Psa. 119:24, 66, 99-100, 104-105, 130)?
[Having our minds renewed by God’s word will help us discern what is the perfect will of God and will, therefore, help us to distinguish good from best.].
Are you basing what you think is best for your life on what the world, your parents, or your friends say, or on what the Word of God says?
[The reason so many Christians are making merely good decisions instead of the best decisions is because they have a worldly set of values from which to base their choices.].
Acts 6:1-4 What was not desirable for the twelve apostles?
Is it good to serve food and help widows out?
However, what was more desirable for the apostles?
Have you ever had to lay aside a good work or ministry in order to concentrate on and pursue the best ministry (e.g., the ministry of the word, which is evangelism, as seen in Acts 14:3, 7, 15, 21, 25; 15:7, 35-36; 16:6, 10)?
If so, what was the good ministry and what was the best?
How did you know which one was good and which one was best?
Can you think of any tips to give to people to help them distinguish the good from the best?
If so, what?
1 Cor. 13:1-3 What are some of the good actions that Paul mentions?
[It should be mentioned that the gifts of tongues, prophecy, and special knowledge ceased by AD 70 and 95 respectively – 1 Cor. 13:8-10; 14:21-22 with Isa. 28:13].
What did Paul say was best to have in spite of doing all these other good things?
Have you ever seen people doing good things (e.g., learning Christian doctrine and apologetics, boldly sharing the gospel, giving money/food to the poor, etc.) but weren’t loving?
What did you think about that person?
Have you ever caught yourself wrapped up in ministry activities and good deeds but were not exhibiting love toward others?
Have you changed, and why?
How can a person be loving (2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 5:18; Gal. 5:22; 1 Jn. 5:14-15; Col. 3:14)?
1 Cor. 10:23 What did Paul say that all things were not?
What are some examples of good things (that aren’t sinful in and of themselves) that become the enemy of the best (things that will help you fulfill God’s purpose for your life) because they are neither profitable (not aiding you in helping you to fulfill your God-given goals, objectives or priorities)nor edifying (things that don’t build up to spiritual maturity, either yourself or others)?
Are the activities in your life (i.e., how you spend your time, talents, and treasure) profitable (having great eternal value; spiritually constructive; helping you to accomplish your God-given goals/objectives/priorities), or are they merely lawful (legitimate, not sinful in and of themselves)?
Eph. 5:15-16 What are Christians told to do with their time?
Why do you think it is important for us to make the most of our time (2 Cor. 5:10)?
What does the command to make the most of your time have to do with discerning good from best?
What are some good things that you are involved with that are stealing/sapping your time so that you don’t have any or little time left for doing what’s best (i.e., loving obedience to God in holy living, evangelism and building up and training other Christians to be Christ-like in character and mission)?
Is involvement in traditional church activities robbing you of time alone with God in daily Bible reading, daily prayer, and scripture meditation/memorization (1 Pet. 2:2; Col. 4:2; Josh. 1:8)?
Is taking too many credit hours in school or having a steady girlfriend/boyfriend keeping you from being taught and trained to be Christ-like in character and mission in life (Eph. 4:11-13)?
Is working too many hours hindering you from aggressively evangelizing the lost a lot or building believers into Christ-like maturity in character and mission (1 Thes. 5:11; Rom. 14:19; Gal. 4:19)?
Do you plan to change your activities from good to best? If so, when?
Remember, life is short! (James 4:14)
1 Tim. 4:7-8 For what are we to discipline ourselves?
Of what profit is physical training/exercise?
Of what profit is godliness?
Why is bodily discipline/exercise merely good when compared to godliness, which is best?
Are you spending a lot of time on your physical body and little or no time on building up your spiritual well-being, and why?
Can you think of any other things, that aren’t sin, but are only of little profit (like physical training) because they offer only temporal benefits in this life and not benefits both here and hereafter?
How can a person become godly (Eph. 5:18; Gal. 5:22-23; Col. 3:12-14; 1 Tim. 4:11-12; 2 Tim. 2:22)?
Are you focusing your time, energy, and money on things that are only of little profit, or on things that are profitable for all things?
Phil. 1:9-10 Why does Paul pray that the Philippian Christian’s love would abound still more and more in real knowledge and discernment?
Of the “things that are excellent” Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown’s Commentary on the Whole Bible reads, “Not merely the things not bad, but the things best among those that are good; the things of more advanced excellence. Ask as to things, not merely, ‘Is there no harm, but is there any good, and which is best?’”
From where do we get real knowledge and discernment (2 Tim. 3:16; Psa. 119:66, 130)?
Is your love for reaching lost/unsaved people with the gospel growing?
Is your love for trusting God and obeying Him abounding more and more?
Is your love for following up new Christians increasing?
Is your love for building up believers spiritually overflowing?
If so (to any of the above questions), how?
Col. 1:28-29 What is the first thing in verse 28 that Paul and Timothy are mentioned as doing?
What is another name for proclaiming Christ?
[In Jn. 17:17-20, Jesus prays that both His disciples and all future believers would be sanctified (Gk. “hegiasmenoi” – meaning “set apart” for God and His purposes) in truth (which is God’s word, Jn. 17:17, specifically, the preaching of the gospel, Col. 1:5; Eph. 1:13), even as He Himself had been a role model of setting Himself apart for the purpose of preaching the truth/gospel.].
What else did Paul and Timothy do to every man?
For what purpose were Paul and Timothy laboring (i.e., proclaiming, admonishing, and teaching)?
What is the biblical way of presenting every man complete/mature in Christ (1 Thes. 5:11; Rom. 14:19; 2 Tim. 2:2; 3:10; 1 Cor. 4:16-17; 11:1; Phil. 4:9)?
How does knowing your God-given purpose in life help you to discern good from best?
[If my purpose is to get a college degree and make straight A’s, then I will eliminate the things that will hinder me from achieving it. Instead of going to parties and social events, I will engulf myself in books and studies.
In the spiritual realm, we see a similar truth. We must eliminate activities that hinder us from accomplishing our God-given goals, objective or purpose in life. There are many good activities that we as Christians can be involved in, but we must choose the best things which help us to accomplish our God-given goals. If we choose a good thing that hinders us from obeying God (i.e., the best), then that good thing becomes bad/sinful because it keeps us from obeying God. Remember, too, that there is no such thing as half-obedience (e.g., 1 Sam. 15:3, 13-14, 22-23).].
Col. 1:9-10 Why did Paul pray that the Colossian Christians be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding?
Of the things that you do (activities, priorities, etc.), do you take the time before you do them to ask:
- Is this activity, plan, or event going to help me walk/live in a manner worthy of the Lord?
- Is this activity going to be pleasing to God?
Or, do you just wander through life doing the first thing that presents itself in the course of the day, and why?
Gal. 6:10 To whom are we to do good?
To whom are we to especially do good?
If you had a choice to do good to a non-believer or to a believer, which would be good and which would be best to do good to, and why?
What are some examples of good things (deeds) that you could do to a believer?
Are you doing good to those of the household of the faith (Christians), and why?
Phil. 1:23-25 What was Paul’s purpose for remaining in the flesh?
1 Thes. 2:9, 11-12 What was Paul’s purpose for being with the Thessalonians?
2 Tim. 3:10 What did Timothy follow of Paul’s?
And what was Paul’s purpose in life (Acts 13:46-47; Gal. 1:15-16; 1 Cor. 9:16-17)?
Phil. 2:2 What were the Philippian Christians to be intent on?
Which was (Phil. 1:27)?
Are you intent (concentrating on, eagerly aiming for) being Christ-like in character (Phil. 1:27) and diligently sharing the gospel (Phil. 1:27), and why?
1 Cor. 4:15-17 Why did Paul send Timothy to the Corinthians?
[So we see that Paul’s purpose in life was to evangelize the lost and build up believers spiritually. He taught Timothy his ways and purpose. Timothy then taught others (including the Corinthians) Paul’s ways and purpose (of evangelism and building up believers into Christlikeness – Gal. 4:19; 1 Cor. 9:16-17). Paul told the Philippians to “be intent on one purpose”. Since the books of Philippians and Corinthians were addressed to Christians in general, we too must imitate Paul in his purpose of evangelism and building up believers to Christ-likeness.].
Are you? If so, how?
1 Pet. 2:9 Why are Christians a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession?
[“the excellencies of God” – are God’s character traits/attributes in action, like His grace, mercy, forgiveness, etc. as demonstrated in the gospel message, Eph. 2:8-9; Titus 3:5; Col. 2:13-14].
Are you proclaiming God’s excellencies via the gospel, and why?
Eph. 4:11-13 Why did God give Christians their spiritual gifts?
Are you training/equipping other Christians to do the work of service (i.e., evangelizing the lost and edifying believers, Acts 14:7, 15, 21-23, 26) to be able to build up Christ’s Church in quantity and quality, and why?